Please note that I’m going to intersperse my narrative with comments from real skiers either uttered from the boot bench or sent to me at Realskiers.com.
The best reason to get new boots (sooner rather than later) is that your old ones either hurt or no longer hold onto to your tootsies. Many skiers continue to use older boots that no longer possess the properties of youth, because to the casual observer they don’t seem worn out. But there’s a critical difference between use – “I’ve only worn them maybe 10 times!” – and age, which marches on whether we use our boots or not. Old plastic, over time, ceases to be, well, plastic; it loses the resilience and response it had when it left the mold. Point being, if your boots are more than ten years old, it’s time to retire them and start a new relationship with a younger partner.
“I’ve learned more about skiing from you in the last half hour than I have from every lesson I ever took.”
But there’s another reason to buy new boots that lurks inside of every bootfitting session: it’s an opportunity to get a one-hour tutorial in how to ski. You might think a boot bench an odd place to give or receive a ski lesson, but it’s actually integral to the process for anyone who isn’t accessorizing with a numbered bib on the weekends.
“Thank you so much! Your advice has been so beneficial to my progression. If I had interacted with you years ago, I would be an expert skier by now.”
Anyone who doesn’t self-classify as an expert – and perhaps many who do – doesn’t necessarily know all the nuances of how small modifications to an out-of-the-box fit can transform the ski experience. For example, maintaining fore/aft balance is of primordial importance; it’s critical that the skier’s “home” position puts him or her in the right posture to succeed, which I can assure you is not a self-evident proposition.
“Thanks Jackson! Between you and Peter [Keelty, Realskiers’ founder] , you have helped my skiing more than any instructor I’ve ever had.”
Lest you imagine I’m a raving techie with some loopy theory I insist on imposing on everyone, the last thing I’m suggesting is a cookie-cutter methodology to which all skiers must submit. But biomechanics being what they are, certain postures are inherently both more powerful and protective, and to properly fit boots one has to know what that stance looks like and how it can be achieved.
“Who knew that you were a gifted writer in addition to your obvious talents as a bootfitter. I just wanted to drop you a note to say that the time spent having you fit my boots at Bobo’s last year was one of my best ski investments ever.”
By now, my perspicacious Dear Readers will have noticed that this week’s Revelation has been spliced with verbatim endorsements culled from either a client’s reaction to a recent bootfit séance at Bobo’s or a Realskiers.com member’s spontaneous eruption of enthusiasm for services rendered.
“Jackson, it’s astounding to me how you continuously address the most important aspects of the sport we love so much.”
While I can hardly pretend this isn’t blatant self-promotion, the point of folding in the chorus of praise here, in a discussion of hidden yet inherent bootfit session benefits, is to underscore the integration of skier education as part of the bootfit process.
“Jackson, I was quietly amazed at the depth of your response – really good advice.”
From my perspective as a bootfitter, it’s impossible to unbundle instruction from bootfitting. I’m not referring simply to information about how the boot works – how to use the micro-adjustment on one’s buckles, or tricks for getting tight boots off – or even fit advice such as leaving the forefoot buckles finger-tight or why thin socks are best – I’m referring, for example, to how the skier’s center of mass moves as he or she flexes at the ankle and knee.
“Thank you for preventing me from continuing to waste my time and money, and for providing the insight as to how to proceed in the future. While I get great pleasure from reading your reviews and revelations, the ability to access your knowledge on a one-to-one basis is invaluable. It is worth multiples of the cost of membership.”
Everything is connected. How I help the skier in front of me secure a solid foundation affects both the reactions of the ski below and the skier above. Details matter. A slight shift in how the heel sits in the back of the boot can re-align the foot so the navicular won’t rub against the shell, just to mention one of many small moves that have a big impact on the whole.
“I have just returned from a ski trip to Aspen and I skied better than I have in many years. No pain from the boots and control that I didn’t realize was possible. I couldn’t be happier with my new ski boots and how a chance meeting with Mr. Hogen has changed my skiing.”
Going from an ill-fitting boot that’s so old you can’t remember where or when you bought it to one that has been custom-fit is a transformative experience. When done right, a bootfit doesn’t just fulfill the promise of comfort, control and warmth, it enables access to the freedom of high-performance skiing.
“Your reviews are differentiated and deeply trusted for their honesty and perspective. They’ve been the foundation of some of the better gear decisions I’ve made.”
Boots work best when you don’t have to think about them at all. To reach this transcendental state, you need a spirit guide, otherwise known as a bootfitter, whose job it is to so integrate you and your skis that the link between them all but disappears.
I would be shirking my duty if I didn’t remind my Dear Readers of an underutilized asset on Realskiers.com, The Returning Skier’s Handbook. This is the time of year when lapsed skiers decide it’s high time they re-engaged with the sport. While they still consider themselves skiers, they’ve been away from the sport long enough that whatever they remember is probably inapplicable today. The Returning Skier’s Handbook fills them in on all they’ve missed, so they’re better educated buyers.
“Thanks again, for always being there and never steering me wrong.”
Even if I can’t personally fit your boots, I can help steer you to someone who can. Simply become a Realskiers.com member for only $24.95/year and I will give your case my personal, one-on-one attention.
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